Hit-and-run crashes an 'epidemic' in Florida, troopers say

FHP: Drivers leave scene of 25-40 crashes per day

By Louis Bolden - Investigative Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - The number of fatal hit-and-run crashes in Florida is up from this time last year, including in Central Florida.

So far this year, fatal hit-and-runs in Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Brevard, Lake and Volusia counties combined have doubled from this time last year.

Drivers leave the scene of hit-and-run crashes 25-40 times per day, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

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"So many of these cases go unsolved because we just don’t have the right information to find the suspect and find the vehicle," Lt. Kim Montes said.

Investigating the crashes is prioritized based on the severity of the crash, according to Montes.

News 6 found that some Central Floridians are becoming their own investigators.

Vernon Glassco's van is totaled. The roof had to be cut off to get him out after a driver crashed into him and left the scene. 

Vernon Glassco's van is totaled after he was involved in a hit-and-run crash at the intersection of SR 436 and SR 50 on June 27.

"It's almost like they didn't care," Glassco said.

The hit-and-run driver is at fault for the crash and the case is closed until that driver is located, according to the crash report.

Glassco had minimal insurance that doesn't cover his vehicle, so the van he owned for a month is a loss and his family has no vehicle.

"It impacts going to work, my children being able to get around," he said. "It's so sad that person was negligent enough to not come forward and say, 'I did it.'"

While Glassco's van is totaled, he has relatively minor injuries. In terms of being investigated, his crash is considered less of a priority, which is why he's taking matters into his own hands and investigating it himself.

"I feel that if it's not going to be investigated by anyone else, I need to take it upon myself to try to investigate," he said.

He has checked with local businesses in the area of the crash looking for surveillance video. There are other things drivers can do to help law enforcement, according to Montes.

"When the crash happens, a lot of times people are in shock," she said. "Get as much information about that vehicle leaving the scene."

Montes said the make, model or even a partial tag number helps.

After Glassco's crash, a witness came to check on him.

"There was a woman that came and knocked on my window, asking if I was OK," he said.

Montes said if you're involved in a crash, and you are able, you should ask witnesses what they saw. She suggests getting their contact information in case they leave before law enforcement arrives.

State law requires you to move your vehicle from the roadway if you’re involved in a minor crash, but before you do, take as many pictures of the damage as possible, Montes suggests.

"Because a lot of times, (in) these hit-and-run crashes, people will ask to move into a parking lot and the other car takes off, and you never got the information," she said.

Glassco's crash happened at the intersection of State Road 436 and State Road 50 around 10 a.m. on June 27.

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Witnesses said the vehicle was a tan or beige four-door sedan.

A witness came forward with information about a possible tag number. That tip was generated by Glassco's work. Troopers are now investigating.

If you have any information about the crash, you're urged to contact the Florida Highway Patrol.

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